Monday, July 26, 2010

Can I get a Witness?

I have heard it said that what most of us need and want from life is a witness. Someone who we can tell our "stories" to right after they happen. Someone who we can nudge when we see something cool. Someone we can call when we think, "Have a thought, must share." I am very fortunate to have several of these witnesses in my life, and I am grateful for each of them. But one of my main "witnesses" is my older sister, Michelle. And since it is her birthday today I thought it only appropriate that I express how grateful I am that she is my witness.

Michelle and I are two years apart and some people think I am older and some people think she is my mother. (Note: If you don't want to be on Michelle's "list" don't ever ask if either of her younger sisters are her daughters.) And more often then not people are very surprised when they find out we are sisters. We don't look anything alike and our personalities and interests are quite different. Some of the things we do share are the same heritage, similar sense of humor, mannerisms and stage of life. It is the perfect combination to make our relationship work so well. Our differences allow us to strengthen each other and learn from each other and our similarities allow us to relate to and appreciate each other. Michelle is one of my very favorite people to tell a story to. Because our humor is so much the same, I know she will laugh the hardest when I have a funny story to tell. She always has as what we call "the script." She knows what to say to make me feel better or to validate my feelings. I don't think there is a detail about my life she doesn't know and vice versa. And because we are so close, some of our different interests and talents have become the other one's talents and interests just because we are willing to try them because the other one does them.
When we were growing up we weren't all that close. I was the annoying little sister who always wanted to tag along with her and her friends and she was the bossy older sister who never let me borrow her clothes. She may still have the physical scars of my fingernails on her back and I'm pretty sure I still have the emotional scars from being locked in the bathroom multiple times even though I was assured by her everytime that she wouldn't lock me in this time. (Have I mentioned before that I was a gullible kid? and Michelle took full advantage of this!) I'm sure my mother worried about us growing up but we have grown to be each other's biggest supporter and defender.
One of the things I admire the most about Michelle is she knows who she is. She doesn't downplay her strengths and she doesn't make any excuses for her weaknesses. She is who she is and you can take her or leave her. I prefer to take her because I think she is a wonderful sister and person. She is extremely loyal to those she loves and would do anything for them (as long as it doesn't fall between 9:00 and 11:30 am when she is at the gym everyday !:) See the great thing about our relationship is I can tease her like that and she knows I do it in love and fun. It is part of our charm, so we think! So Happy Birthday Missy! Thank you for being my greatest cheerleader and witness. I love you!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Summer Of . . .

I realized we are a little over halfway through the summer and i haven't posted anything about what we have been doing. We haven't been on any big vacations this summer since "Tuition" has been rented out for most of the summer. "Tuition" is the name I gave to the motorhome we bought a little over a year ago. I christened the RV "Tuition" because instead of saving for our kids' college tuition we decided to buy an RV. But this year decided it might be a little more financially prudent to actually have some money in the bank when it is time for our kids' higher education, so through a vacation rental business that one of Eric's friends owns we have been renting out "Tuition" and actually saving for tuition at the same time. It is what Stephen Covey would call a "win-win."

Anyway I have noticed that sometimes there are certain events that can define a summer. Things like a certain song (think "Summer of "69) or a movie- like I remember seeing "Back to the Future" in the summer of '89. So in that vein, here are some of the things that have defined the Summer of '10 for our family.
*Car games- In our travels back and forth to the pool or to the store or to friends' houses, my kids have created an amalgamation of several different car games which include "Slugbug", "Bingo", "Mustang, motorcycle, convertible" to name a few. Basically they look for certain cars and try to "call" them before anyone else and then reward themselves points for them. For example if you see a motorcycle you get one point. If you see a "bingo"(yellow) mustang you get two points. And the piece de resistance is a bingo slugbug convertible with the top off. Of course they don't keep track of the points and make the rules up at will and it sometimes causes one of those highly intelligent arguments that my kids are famous for. But it does keep them entertained and it can be highly entertaining for me to listen to. The best is when Katie is talking to me and doesn't even take a breath or miss a beat in her sentence to call out a car she has seen. "Mom, I really want to play with motorcycle! Sarah because I haven't mustang convertible! played with her in a long time." And the only way to end the game is if you see missionaries because they are worth like a million points.
*The Drive-In movie- We have discovered the drive-in movie this summer and we are never going back. It is the only way to see a movie in the summer with young kids. It is much cheaper because kids under 10 are only $1 and we can bring our own treats. Plus when Suzie gets bored about 2/3 into the movie which she almost inevitably does she can move around more without disturbing other people. The only draws backs are the late start time- 9:30pm and getting pulled over at 11:45pm with all your girls in the backseat. But that's a post of a different color!

*My flower-pots actually surviving and thriving. I have grown a garden for years and seem to manage a pretty healthy harvest. But my flower pots are another story altogether. Usually they look like this: And this year they actually look like this:
Although I do have to say that when I started to type this I remembered I hadn't watered them today so I had to stop and go do that. My inability to consistently remember to do this may have something to do with their early demise every year.
*The Norwegian Pancake Pan- My ancestry comes from Norway and so does one of our favorite breakfast foods- Norwegian pancakes. My mom made them, her mom made them, her grandma made them, etc. They are similiar to crepes and my kids love them covered in butter and syrup. A few years ago my mom tried to find authentic Norwegian Pancake pans to give to all her children and couldn't. But she did find this pan:
I think it is suppose to be for making tortillas and it does a good job of making other ethnic fare like Norwegian pancakes too. But this summer it has been our go to pan not only for pancakes but also for grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, etc. It can't be washed with soap, but almost everyday I am scraping it clean.
I do have a funny story related to this pan. A few weeks ago we had my very honest, very adorable 6 year old nephew, Easton, over for a sleepover. I was making Norwegian pancakes for breakfast. My sister, his mom, also makes these pancakes and Easton was bragging that he could eat 5 Norwegian pancakes. We make them basically the same way but I do one thing different. I use whole wheat flour instead of white flour because it is a way to get whole grains in my kids when they don't know it. I didn't think it made much difference in the taste, but my nephew proved me wrong. After eating just one pancake he proclaimed he was done. I questioned his earlier claim and said, "But I thought you could eat 5?!?" He responded, "Yeah, that's at home where they're good." Oh, I see!
*Lofty Goals- I make lofty goals for my kids in the summer about things like reading, working on math facts, learning a new skill, etc. But like I said, these are goals I make, not them. They make goals like not sleeping in their bed the whole summer. Finn accomplished this last summer and is working on it again this year and so far he is rockin' it. He sleeps on the coach mostly but sometimes he makes a fort or sleeps outside with a cousin. And isn't that one of the secrets to being successful at a goal... make it one that is attainable so you don't get frustrated and give up. Who needs a goal like reading 10 books in the summer when you accomplish another one and not have a bed to make in the morning? Now that is what Finn would call a "win-win!"